It was hot in Baltimore on Sunday. The Orioles faithful came out in full force and although the hosts did not manage to win, they put up an impressive baseball show, which included 14 hits for the home team and 11 hits for the opponents. After Saturday’s loss in Game 1 of the ALDS, the Orioles once again suffered an epic loss in Game 2.
Later in Houston, Carlos Correa and the Twins made it clear that they weren’t going down without a fight against the big, bad Astros. The Twins held on until late in the game when Minnesota picked up the win and went home with a 1-1 series lead.
No. 3 Minnesota Twins at No. 2 Houston Astros, Game 2: Twins 6, Astros 2 (Series tied 1-1)
In the second regular-season match between the two aces, the Twins’ Pablo López defeated Houston’s Framber Valdez. López, a 27-year-old who joined Minnesota in the Luis Arraez trade last winter, pitched seven innings, striking out seven and allowing just six hits to a usually tenacious Astros lineup.
On the other side, Valdez was struggling. While the biggest blow to the Game 2 scoreboard was Kyle Farmer’s two-run shot, Valdez’s recent inconsistency and lack of play could doom the Astros’ hopes of making another ALCS. The 29-year-old left-hander, who posted an ERA of 1.44 in 25 postseason innings last season during Houston’s triumph, pushed 90 pitches but went just 4⅓ innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks.
Valdez has had walk issues in his last few starts, including a no-hitter on Aug. 25, and much of his issues may be due to changes to his signature sinker that make the pitch faster but not move as much as when he’s on the field. his best. It’s true that one bad start doesn’t mean the end of the world for the defending champions, but Valdez’s continued poor performance would be a bad omen for Dusty Baker’s plans.
Before López had his full outing, the Twins rallied several rallies and, thanks largely to Carlos Correa, built a 6-0 lead that held even after the Astros’ Yordan Alvarez scored.
Kyle Farmer, a multi-position reliever the Twins acquired from Cincinnati in November 2022 for 26-year-old relief pitcher Casey Legumina, drove one of Valdez’s flatter fastballs into the left field of Crawford Boxes in the second inning.
The outburst provided López with a cushion and put Valdez on the ropes as the Twins looked for a decisive break in Houston.
All of the narratives throughout this series have focused on Carlos Correa taking on his former team, and in the second game, he lived up to those expectations.
His first-inning RBI double gave the Twins a 1-0 lead. In the third, he reached the base on foot. His rule-laden single in the fifth made it two and it was 5-0, a lead over the Astros that may have finally made the Twins feel comfortable.
In the seventh, Correa doubled to load the Twins on base, then was thrown out to end the inning, but not before another Minnesota run was added to the scoreboard.
Finally, he ended the evening with a dive that was the highlight of the net.
What a way to end this! Carlos Correa, have a nice evening.
We are currently between an unlikely (10-40%) chance and a slim (1-10%) chance of downtime in this game.
How would you draw it? pic.twitter.com/azJ7TyNKED
— Inside Edge (@IE_MLB) October 9, 2023
The third game will be played on Tuesday at 4:07 p.m. ET in Minneapolis. The Astros will send Cristian Javier to the mound and the Twins will face Sonny Gray, who threw five scoreless games to clinch the wild-card series.
No. 5 Texas Rangers at first place Baltimore Orioles, Game 2: Rangers 11, Orioles 8 (Texas leads 2-0)
Baltimore took a 2-0 lead after three singles and a first down, and Texas responded – and then some. The Rangers found success in the second quarter, scoring two walks, four singles and a double, along with five runs. It chased Orioles rookie Grayson Rodriguez after pitching 1⅔ innings.
From that point on, the Rangers’ offense did not falter. In the third, Bryan Baker dropped three consecutive fights, ending his day. Jacob Webb then gave up a grand slam against the first batter he faced. And so it was 9-2 Rangers.
The Orioles’ bats continued to make a splash – the seventh inning was the only one in which they went 1-2-3 – and began to close the deficit a bit with two runs in the fourth inning and a solo shot by Gunnar Henderson in the fifth.
Still, the Rangers juggernaut continued, scoring a tenth run in the top of the fifth inning and another in the top of the ninth to make it 11-5.
But the Orioles didn’t go away quietly. With one out in the ninth, Gunnar Henderson walked and Austin Hays singled in Aaron Hicks, who hit a three-run home run that ultimately made the final score look much closer than it seemed. Two more quick outs and the series ended 2-0 for the Rangers.
After scoring five points and taking a 5-2 lead in the second inning, the Rangers’ offense removed any doubts about how the game would go in the third inning. With one out, walks by Leody Taveras, Marcus Semien and Corey Seager loaded the bases for Mitch Garver, who made it 3-1 and then did this:
Sure, there was still a lot of baseball left at that point, but a 9-2 lead at any point would take the wind out of opponents’ sails.
Corey Seager, in the pinnacle of offseason patience, became the first player in MLB playoff history to record five walks in a single game on Sunday.
It was an 11-walk day for the Rangers, who left some of the Orioles’ best pitchers searching for answers but finding nothing.
Rangers passed 11 times today. Only once in a postseason game that lasted no more than nine innings did a team go more than that. But no one saw it. It was the Yankees who played the wild card game in 2020.
— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) October 8, 2023
The Rangers finally return home and do so with a 2-0 series lead. After road series in Seattle, Tampa and Baltimore, the Rangers now have at least one home game remaining.
Game three of the series begins Tuesday at 8:03 p.m. EST in Arlington. The Rangers will hand the ball to Nathan Eovaldi, who will look to win the series, while the Orioles will try to turn this match around and earn their first victory in the 2023 postseason.
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